Cliffbee.com: Masterpiece Megatron Toy Review

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Name: Megatron
Series: Masterpiece
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Decepticon Commander
Alternate Mode: Walther P-38 Pistol



GUN MODE
Height: 23cm Length: 31.5cm Width: 4.5cm

   An oversized silver and black Walther P-38 pistol, Megatron closely resembles his original incarnation. The handle is black along with a mount attached to the right side of the chamber (for the black fusion cannon). The rest of the gun is a silver plastic, which is essentially one uniform shade, unlike the original's gun mode which was a mixture of flat grey, chrome silver and silver die cast metal. The silver plastic is obviously plastic, although the sheen is about right for polished aluminium. Having said that, the typical P-38 is black anyway. There are Decepticon logos on either side of the gun, just above the trigger, which pretty much dispels the idea that this is a real gun, and of course solidifies Megatron's allegiance. The colour scheme - which not quite as lifelike as that of the original Megatron toy - is more cohesive.

   This gun mode treads the line between being a good Megatron and not quite looking real. The major details are all included in the sculpt - grip on the handle, sight on the front, hammer on the back, three different switches on the left side (including a safety that actually moves), a strap loop on the base of the handle and false screws on the handle. There's even a serial number on the left just above the trigger (4640e, in case you care). On the flipside, Megatron's too big to really work as a handheld gun - while you can hold the handle and place a finger on the trigger, it looks rather forced. On the whole I'm happy with this compromise, since we get a really good Megatron gun mode but not something that's downright realistic (despite what some toy gun laws seem to indicate).

   There's not a whole lot of play value here - most of that is reserved for his robot mode. The trigger can pull back, but the clicking sound from the original Microman mould has gone. There's no possibility of a firing mechanism in this toy, either. I don't care so much about a firing mechanism - which would no doubt have limited his robot mode anyway - but a clicking trigger would have been cool. On the upside, Megatron gains a moving safety switch this time around. He comes with the fusion cannon which is pretty much iconic of the character, which can attach on top or set aside if you prefer. The barrel and handle extensions that came with the original are absent here, which is a little strange since the three extras really belong together - and Megatron's pistol mode in the cartoon _always_ featured all three extensions. There's no standalone tripod gun available, obviously, although the fusion can does have the little flip-out handles at the back.

   A solid if not quite spectacular gun mode. The detailing and attention to detail in the colour scheme are very good, and the overall finish is very nice, making for a nice display piece. The play value isn't quite what up to the standards of the original Megatron toy - I get the feeling the designer was really focusing on the robot mode, which is understandable. I don't really miss some lost aspects such as the firing mechanism, but a click in the trigger would have been nice. My only substantial complaint is the loss of the barrel and handle extensions, which I suspect were dropped to keep the costs down (well, in favour of the robot mode add-ons at the price they were aiming for).

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   I'm not going to go right through all the steps. It's essentially the same concept as the original toy, albeit with quite a few more steps. The handle becomes the legs, the hammer area his arms and the chamber becomes his chest. The trigger folds away inside the boots while the groin forms from a few panels. The muzzle sits behind the torso rather than underneath, matching the G1 cartoon. There are some really fiddly pieces which move on their own to make the robot mode work, making this a more complex transformation. Amongst the highlights, Megatron's trigger actually splits down the middle and the head actually sits inside a false helmet, allowing for the cartoon buckethead to come through.





ROBOT MODE
Height: 34.5cm Width: ~10cm (depending on arm pose)

   Again mainly silver, Megatron's groin, hands and the outside of his boots is black while there's some significant red on his waist, along with some blue and yellow details. The face is grey with red eyes, and matches the cartoon quite closely. The feet are a true metallic colour unlike the rest of the toy - in fact the feet are the most significant die cast section of this toy. The fusion cannon on his right forearm is black, as you'd expect while there's a purple Decepticon logo in the middle of his chest.

   I do like the improvements made to this robot mode. The body proportions are a lot better than those of the original, and the groin actually looks like a groin, not a trigger trying desperately not to be phallic. The waist is a lot taller - proportionally as well as in absolute terms, and this helps his bodyshape immensely. A lot has been made about the fact that the fusion cannon is bigger than it should be - and while this is certainly true, it needs to be to work in both modes. I do still feel that the improved body shape, improved groin area and relocation of his muzzle make this robot mode a vast improvement compared to the original. The buckethead, which I've already mentioned, matches the cartoon version well, and the effort put into that aspect is impressive.

   There has also been a lot of discussion about the relative lack of die cast metal in this toy. To be honest, I can see why the designer has kept the metal to a minimum - firstly, if the upper half of the gun mode had a lot of die cast metal, Megatron's robot mode would be far too top heavy now. On top of that, you'd have a distinct colour different between plastic and metal areas. Whilst it's not perfect, I think the practical reasons make the use of plastic the right choice. At any rate, this plastic robot has more metal than the awful Masterpiece Starscream and is far more stable in robot mode.

   Following on from Masterpiece Convoy, Megatron comes with a variety of weapons. The first and most obvious is the big black fusion cannon on his right arm, which is detachable. The fusion cannon is bigger than it should be, although it's not actually much bigger than the original, but it's much bigger than the reduced version in the cartoon. There's a red LED inside, pressing a button on the right side will activate the LED, the light from which is quite diffused, so it's more like a lamp than a laser, yet still quite bright. There's a transparent purple ball and chain similar to the one that came with various Megatron reissues. Sadly the chain is about twice as long as it should be, and there's no easy way to shorten it in a non-destructive way. While it wouldn't be hard for any reasonably experienced kitbasher to fix, I stress that there's no reversible to remove links from the chain.

   There's also a tall laser dagger, featuring a transparent purple blade and a short solid purple handle. It's more of a sabre than a dagger, but the box calls it a dagger, so I guess we'll go with that. This is the same slashing weapon that Megatron wielded against Optimus Prime in Transformers: The Movie, and aside from the fact it doesn't glow, it's a pretty good effort. The third weapon - and my personal favourite (as you might have guessed from the robot picture above) is a purple and silver pistol. It's the generic pistol Megatron used in the movie to finish Prime off, and while this is perhaps the least distinctive of his weapons, I really appreciate its inclusion in the set - it really shows the designer thought about the extras here. It fits into Megatron's hand very well. There is one other inclusion in the box, I'll come back to that one in a moment.

   Megatron's articulation isn't quite up to the same standard of the other Masterpiece toys, since he has far more to do in transformation that the others. The head is on a ball joint but in reality it only turns from side to side. The shoulders swing and lift out to the sides up to about 40. There are two hinges per elbows and rotators just below the lower hinge while the wrists rotate. The fingers are all hinged, although they're permanently curled, while the thumb is opposed and can lift up and down. I can't ask for too much more in his hands, except maybe a pointable index finger - but that would affect his ability to hold weapons - and would make it hard for him to get that finger into the trigger of the purple handgun.

   The leg articulation is good, although the effective poseability isn't quite as spectacular, thanks to the heavy fusion cannon, which limits the range of stable poses. The hips swing and can lift out to the sides to some degree while the knees have hinges and rotators. The metal feet are on very large ball joints (which need to be heavy duty since the entire toy's weight sits above them. Megatron doesn't have much in the way of heelspurs, but then most of the unsettling weight is at the front, sitting on the right forearm.

   A good robot mode improves on the original in several notable ways. The groin looks much better, the proportions are good and the trigger is dealt with a lot better. There are some shortcomings here, but most of them are understandable - such as the sparing use of metal and some limitations to his articulation. A smaller fusion cannon would have been nice - and this is my only complaint. Whilst it needs to be this big for gun mode, I'd have preferred than mode take the hit so this mode (which most collectors will choose to display) looks better. The poseability is good if not great - but Megatron needs to do more than most Masterpieces (and pretty much every Binaltech) to transform successfully, and this simply leaves less room for articulation. The array of accessories is welcome, and while the ball and chain doesn't quite work, the dagger and gun are very good. And that doesn't even include Kremzeek!



KREMZEEK!

   A 3cm tall transparent yellow figurine, Kremzeek! is composed of a fairly soft plastic, while his eyes and mouth are red. While the Kremzeek! we saw in the cartoon was a solid yellow, I don't mind the transparent plastic here. The mould, including jagged edges and a jagged mouth, matches the character as we saw him in the cartoon very well. There's not really any poseability, but the soft plastic does allow some play value. For those who are unfamiliar, Kremzeek! was an accidental creation of Megatron, a creature composed of energy, whom Megatron unleashed on the Autobots. He's much smaller than Megatron and can potentially stand on Megatron's left shoulder, waist or in either hand.

   While this is a very simple figurine, I really appreciate the inclusion of Kremzeek!, who was the central device of the episode named for him. As with most of the accessories, it shows that the designer was really thinking about the tie-ins included here, and Kremzeek! is generic enough to work with other characters prominent in the same episode (such as Blaster).

VARIATIONS

   None as such, although those sold through various American outlets are required by law to have a bright orange attachment on the tip. I'm happy to report mine came straight from Japan and doesn't have this piece added.

OVERALL

   While he's not quite up to the ridiculously high standard set by Masterpiece Convoy, this is still a great toy. The robot mode is really strong - Megatron has clearly been designed around giving us a fantastic robot mode, and delivers. The gun mode is a little disappointing, but other than the loss of some of the extensions, most of the issues are minor. To compensate for the loss in pistol mode, Megatron comes with an array of robot mode accessories, ranging from the fun little Kremzeek! figure to the very thoughtful generic purple handgun seen in the movie. The robot mode is fairly poseable, and while by modern standards the poseability isn't that spectacular, I'm more than happy with it considering just how much engineering has to go into making the robot mode proportions as good as they are whilst still giving us a good gun mode. The play value is still good overall, and the display value is great. Some have lamented the relative scarcity of die cast metal in this toy, but considering weight and stability issues, I don't mind. While he's not quite as impressive as his Autobot counterpart, this is a far, far, more ambitious prospect (and is easily better than Masterpiece Starscream) - 9/10

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